AI Works With Fashion on Hybrid Design, Original Clothes from a Personal Stylist

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On the website of online personal shopping service Stitch Fix, the company features a customer review that reads, “I love that my stylist listens to my feedback. The personal note included in my Fix shows how much pride she takes in serving each client.”

Stitch Fix’s personal stylist is the best of its kind. Indeed, few stylists in the industry has achieved the same level of success at outfit pairing and shopping recommendation. Measured by business terms, Stitch Fix’s stylist has transformed a startup in an apartment into a public company in just seven years.

Except that the “stylist” is not a “she”—nor is it a “he.” 

Stitch Fix picks clothes for each customer from a sea of inventory with the help of a set of algorithms coded by the company’s 85-person data team. Although a human stylist would make final decisions on clothes selection, algorithms help recommend items within each customer’s price, size and style preferences, a company spokesperson told Observer.

For each customer, the algorithm-assisted “stylist” analyzes fashion preferences based on a customer’s profile with the site (including information on size, general preference on color, price range and occasion, etc.), purchase and return history with Stitch Fix, and activities on social media such as fashion pictures saved on Pinterest. The more data the algorithm collects about the customer, the better it knows about that person’s fashion tastes and the better it gets at recommending outfits.

The technology behind Stitch Fix’s robot-assisted styling tool, which venture capitalist Mary Meeker called e-commerce’s “aha” moment, is now being used in the field of original design.

The initiative, named “hybrid design,” aims to ultimately create clothes from scratch just like a human designer does.  

“We noticed gaps in the market and an opportunity to produce something that doesn’t exist, but should,” Eric Colson, Stitch Fix’s chief algorithm officer, told Co.Design when the initiative took off last year.  

The market gaps, Colson said, are a result of an unprecedented trove of user data thanks to the proliferation of social media and subscription sites like Stitch Fix.

“We’re uniquely suited to do this. This didn’t exist before because the necessary data didn’t exist. A Nordstrom doesn’t have this type of data because people try things on in the fitting room, and you don’t know what they didn’t buy or why. We have this access to great data, and we can do a lot with it,” he said in a separate interview with Glossy.

Read the source article in the Observer.